Arsonist jailed for four years

Darren Murphy
Darren Murphy

A Halifax man was jailed for four years at Bradford Crown Court after admitting setting fire to his ex-partner’s home.

Darren Murphy, 37, of Bankfield Yard, Boothtown, Halifax, admitted a charge of arson and being reckless to whether life would be endangered.

The court heard he broke into the home of Kelly McIntyre at North Byland, Illingworth, Halifax, last December.

The couple had had a 17 year relationship and had two sons aged 15 and seven. They separated two years before the fire.

Sophie Drake, prosecuting, said Murphy had been violent to Miss McIntyre and she is still frightened of him.

She had been excited about a new start and had bought furniture and decorated her new home.

On the night of the fire the house was empty and neighbours were awoken by sounds in the street and saw flames coming from the property and called 999.

A 90-year-old woman next door had to be evacuated to safety.

Fire crews attended and initially it was thought people were in the blazing home.

Miss Drake said Murphy broke in through the kitchen window and suffered cuts.

He went upstairs and set fire to the property using a naked flame.

Police attended at Murphy’s home address.

He had burns to his hand and soot in his nostrils and on his face.

Miss McIntyre was said to be devastated by the loss of items of sentimental value and her pet cat that perished in the blaze which caused extensive damage.

She consequently suffered weight loss and her hair fell out.

Jeremy Lyndsey, mitigating, said his client had mental health problems but this was a one off incident.

Many people had spoken positively about him.

“He has frightened himself and scared his children,” he said.

“It was an awful event and fortunately no one was injured.”

Judge Colin Burn said it was an extremely dangerous arson for which custody was the only options

He told Murphy: “The fact that the fire was noticed was not down to you. You left leaving a trail of blood behind you without notifying anybody.

“The reality is if a neighbour had not noticed it, it could have ended very seriously indeed.

“You got very drunk and went into the house to cause maximum damage.”